The Talent Problem: a 4 Point Solution Checklist

Image result for horrible golf cartoon

I love golf and I’m reasonably good at it as I routinely shoot in the high 70s and low 80s. The game of golf has been good for me because it has taught me patience and mental toughness but one thing is for sure: I’ll never be able to quit my day job and compete on the PGA Tour. “But John, if you practice hard enough, you can do anything!” That’s true, but to quote Austin Powers, “That train has sailed.” I’m 33 and should have been practicing since I was 5 in order to even have a shot at my tour card. I believe that we have a talent problem…not that we have a lack of talent but that we have an entire group of people trying to be something that they aren’t.

I see countless artists, musicians, leaders, writers and other great communicators throwing their time and energy into becoming the “next big thing”. The problem is they are following the trends, which shift like the winds. I know, because I tried too and failed miserably. When you follow what you think might be profitable even if you don’t care about it, you will always lose. I tried this by attempting to go to law school, becoming an independent consultant for electronic medical records, and even tried selling insurance. There’s NOTHING wrong with these things, but they aren’t in line with MY talents or interests at all. After learning these lessons the hard way, I’ve developed a checklist of 4 ways to make sure your talent and interests align in whatever career you are pursuing. I actually included my personal responses to these questions as a guide.

  1. What are the things that come naturally to me? Music, artistic creativity, encouragement, humor and wit, writing, no problems talking in front of people.
  2. What are the things that don’t come naturally to me? Any kind of mathematical pursuit, politics, talking extensively about pop culture, being patient, investments and banking
  3. Ask people that really KNOW you what your gifts are. This is where vulnerability comes in. If you’re really daring, you will ask about your strengths AND your weaknesses. I did this and it was INVALUABLE!
  4. How can I use my strengths to add value to people? Make people laugh when they are struggling, give a great piece of music or art when they need inspiration, write something that can change their perspective, be transparent shoot a video that does all of the above.

It’s not simple, but in all actually…it really is. If we’re honest, we all know what we’re good at, but we tend to believe either the voices in society that say, “This won’t work now. Do this popular thing over here,” or we listen to the voices in our head that tell us, “You suck. You’ve got nothing to say. You’re going to fail.” If I’m honest, the biggest hang up I’ve had during this entire journey of creating content is monetization and I don’t think I’m not alone here. At the end of the day, if TRUE VALUE is being offered by what you are creating, the money will come.

The important factor here is to try not to do it alone. Keep those people close to you that know about your gifts. Reach out to new people every day that are doing what you want to do and you would be surprised how gracious they can be with sharing their experiences. You may have to keep going back to these 4 points as a proverbial gate keeper to prevent you from straying into an area that you “think” will be profitable. The world is now more connected than ever before and there is someone out there who will appreciate your affinity for one-legged caterpillars. Have you ever gone down a YouTube rabbit hole? Do it and be encouraged.

Keep tuning in.

I’m not done yet…

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